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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 6 Questions for Alexander Shelley

By Lev Bratishenko on February 23, 2015

Interview with Alexander Shelley, announced as NAC Orchestra Music Designate in October 2013.
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THE MORNING AFTER | Music That Just Is

By Lev Bratishenko on March 23, 2015

The Ladies' Morning Musical Club is the most civilized thing you can do in Montreal on a Sunday afternoon. They’ve been in continuous operation since 1892 and I have no doubt they’ll find a way to keep putting on concerts through the coming ecological apocalypse. Perhaps they will sell distilled water...
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THE MORNING AFTER | Vancouver Opera's Stickboy: Does an opera have to be great, to be great for opera?

By Lev Bratishenko on November 3, 2014

Seven seasons of Opéra de Montreal have trained me to read a season brochure cynically and only with chemical support. I must find satisfaction in the absence of disaster rather than the chance of a triumph. Objectively, of course, this is awful; I love opera but have to travel for interesting productions. But I am much calmer now.
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THE MORNING AFTER | The MET Offer Up a Dark and Bloody Iolanta / Bluebeard's Castle

By Lev Bratishenko on February 10, 2015

Wear a down parka to the Met in winter for a Slavic double-bill like Iolanta and Bluebeard’s Castle and you feel like the only caveman too stupid to club a mink. A sweet Russian lady handed me her spare with maternal concern, but if I felt any embarrassment it vanished in the dead animal’s embrace, and people stopped staring...
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THE MORNING AFTER | A Poem For Opéra de Montréal's Elektra

By Lev Bratishenko on November 23, 2015

A poem as a review for Opéra de Montréal, Elektra.
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THE MORNING AFTER | William Tell Brings a Riveting Spectacle to Roy Thomson Hall (Review)

By Lev Bratishenko on December 7, 2014

How do you bring a 188-member orchestra and chorus, their equipment and a dozen soloists from Italy to North America? You buy a ship, crew it, and like the Ark, stock two of every musician. Half will be eaten on the journey. Though historical precedents suggest it may be unsustainable, such extravagance was worth it. To the families of the eaten: we salute you. William Tell was a triumph.
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THE MORNING AFTER | Christianne Stotijn and Julius Drake Evoke of the Sounds of Spring

By Lev Bratishenko on April 14, 2015

Mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn and pianist Julius Drake perform a spring-like program of song at Pollack Hall.
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THE MORNING AFTER | Is she a swine?

By Lev Bratishenko on November 17, 2014

It is a mystery why Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is performed so rarely. This wild opera was written in 1932 and it only premiered at the Met in 1994 with a production by Graham Vick that returned last Monday. The production remains silly, the opera magnificent.
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THE MORNING AFTER | Hello, Isabel

By Lev Bratishenko on September 22, 2014

I spent most of the ride to Kingston trying to control my blinking. I don’t want to scare people. They already expect weird things from journalists, but I always maintain high standards of appearance and behaviour to correct the stereotype of us as boozing half-starved apes. Unfortunately I had been up until dawn drinking and digging for beetles to eat. And now it was raining. Or I was crying, I’m not sure. Functionally non-human, I hurtled towards Kingston in a grey damp tunnel. It was hopeless—there was nothing to look forward to, the concert was Ravel and Schumann with Dvorak after for those who endured the first half. If I had been able to stand up, I should have thrown myself from the train.
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THE MORNING AFTER | Excerpts from the Freya Grimhands Method of Piano Instruction

By Lev Bratishenko on October 9, 2014

  1. Sit next to child on piano bench. Too close to the child. Remind them that you were almost a concert pianist yourself. Sigh at all mistakes. Swat poor elbow position. Moan.
  2. Hold Fluffy Woogums out the window. If mistakes are being made mention Fluffy Woogums has begun to wiggle.
  3. Child comes home to you at the piano drenched in sweat and banging one note exhaustedly. Groan that the bomb will go off if the piano isn’t played. Mime agony in limbs when child heroically takes your place. Go to a bar.
  4. Replace child’s car seat with a piano bench.
  5. Bring over another child the same age and a much better pianist. After listening to her play with exaggerated pleasure, let your child overhear a whispered argument with your husband about “the upgrade”. New child must also be excessively polite.
  6. Replace child’s bed with piano.
  7. Attach token-operated locks to fridge, bathroom, windows and front door. Tokens may be obtained from a dispenser in the piano activated by the keys. A remarkable increase in playing speed can be obtained.
  8. Replace all furniture with pianos.
  9. Hire old lady to impersonate lost grandmother and spend hours forming a close, baking-based connection to the delighted child before collapsing on the floor, clutching child’s leg and moaning “Promise me… you will not stop… the lessons”, then dying horribly. Child will have a limited but serious musical career.
Lev Bratishenko
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